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I Hear Brooklyn Singing

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It’s a wonder that the members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus had time to assemble for this photo. Last week, they sang with indie rockers Grizzly Bear at the Town Hall (they’re on the band’s new album) and at their own concerts. As of June 11, they’ll perform in seven of Lorin Maazel’s final concerts with the New York Philharmonic. And they’re preparing for a central role in Really Real, composer Phil Kline’s evening-long piece with choreographer Wally Cardona for BAM’s Next Wave Festival.

Among New York’s choral groups, BYC stands alone. It’s really a vocal academy, started from scratch in 1992 by its unflappable director, Dianne Berkun. (Today, 280 kids sing in five choral levels, from 127 schools.) “Often in a chorus, there’s some compromising on individual development for the sake of an ensemble,” Berkun says. “But these kids are trained to sing all musics authentically.” Maazel calls them “prepared within an inch of their lives,” and Kline agrees: “I don’t think I really got what their musicianship was like till rehearsal. It’s everything you could ask for.” He laughs. “And unlike most professionals I know, they come on time and don’t leave early!” Of course not—then they’d have to go do their homework.


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